Arca (album)

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Arca
Arca - Arca.jpg
Studio album by
Released7 April 2017
Genre
Length43:17
LabelXL
ProducerArca
Arca chronology
Entrañas
(2016)
Arca
(2017)
Singles from Arca
  1. "Piel"
    Released: 22 February 2017
  2. "Anoche"
    Released: 24 February 2017
  3. "Reverie"
    Released: 16 March 2017
  4. "Saunter"
    Released: 24 March 2017
  5. "Desafío"
    Released: 10 April 2017

Arca is the self-titled third studio album by Venezuelan electronic record producer Arca, released on 7 April 2017 through XL Recordings.[3][4] It is the first studio album to feature lead vocals by Arca herself, sung in her native Spanish.[5] It was released to universal acclaim from critics.[6]

Background[edit]

On 28 February 2016, Ghersi announced via Instagram that her new album would be titled Reverie and was almost finished,[7] although on 22 February 2017, she announced that the album would in fact be self-titled Arca.[8] She explained in an interview for i-D magazine that she didn't want the album to be eponymous, it's more that every other name felt wrong: "I went through a whole year of trying different names, they all felt foreign. But because I use my singing voice in a way that I've never done before, it didn't feel unnatural to call it Arca."[5]

The use of her voice on the new album was inspired by collaborator and friend, Björk:[9]

I don't know if I would've ever sung on this record if it weren't for Björk. We were in the car together and I had been singing for fun and she turned to me very casually and asked me if I'd ever considered singing on my music. I just dismissed it. But then I took her very seriously because I respect her so profoundly as a vocalist. She gave me so much guidance, so I really want to celebrate that when I talk about the record. It was a big deal. She was so nurturing throughout the whole process and I don't know if I would've been so brave to do this without her as a friend.[10]

Ghersi explained her reasoning for singing in Spanish as it was the language she learned to process emotion with, the language of her upbringing that her parents "fought and divorced in". She said it became much more natural for her to manifest certain things that were very private and very intimate in Spanish.[11]

Ghersi said the lyrics on the album are "all recent and all – except for one song – improvised" and that she "never sat down and wrote a word and then changed it to a better word," further stating: "I recorded lots and lots of melodies and lyrics, if they were pure enough I left them like that. I didn't let my critical mind interrupt the outpouring."[5] Many songs include references to her influences, such as the lyrics of "Anoche", which reference Björk's 1995 song "I Miss You"[12] and some of the lyrics of "Reverie" which are taken directly from the Venezuelan folk classic "Caballo Viejo", composed by Simón Díaz.[13]

Release and promotion[edit]

Ghersi announced the album's title and release date via Twitter along with the opening track off the album, "Piel" on 22 February 2017.[14] The track listing includes the previously shared "Sin Rumbo", which appeared on her previous release, Entrañas and "Urchin", which was released on 29 December 2015.[4][15] On 24 February, she released the second track, "Anoche" along with a music video directed by longtime collaborator Jesse Kanda, who also designed the cover art of the album.[16] On March 16, she released another video directed by Kanda for "Reverie".[17] On March 24, "Saunter" was released. In addition, "Saunter" and "Reverie" were released on a limited run of 12-inch singles along with the album's release.[18][19] On April 10, she released a music video for the tenth track, "Desafío".[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic87/100[6]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[21]
The A.V. ClubA−[22]
Consequence of SoundB+[23]
Financial Times4/5 stars[24]
The Guardian5/5 stars[25]
Mixmag8/10[26]
Pitchfork8.5/10[27]
Q4/5 stars[28]
Resident Advisor4.3/5[29]
Uncut8/10[30]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 87, based on 20 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[6] AllMusic's Heather Phares praised Ghersi for pushing her boundaries on Arca, further stating that "the vulnerability [she] displays makes it some of [her] most exciting and moving music yet."[21] Nina Corcoran of The A.V. Club praised the album, stating: "If the skittering fluctuation of Ghersi's past releases gained [her] a cult following, then the open-hearted ballads sprinkled throughout Arca should earn [Arca her] well-deserved breakthrough."[22] Clash magazine critic Shahzaib Hussain thought that Arca "rides a steady stream of minimalist melancholia, juxtaposed against Ghersi’s intense, operatic vocals – the effect is one of ceremonial transcendence."[1] Consequence of Sound's David Sackllah described the album as Arca's "most daring and enthralling record yet," adding that "By peeling back the layers of his persona, Ghersi breaks himself down in an attempt to find rebirth, trying to reconcile with [her] past and present."[23] Bryon Hayes of Exclaim! said, "This back-and-forth is carried along throughout Arca, demonstrating that Ghersi hasn't lost [her] fondness for tempered electronic cacophony, but has expanded [her] palette, to mind-bendingly gorgeous results."[31]

Fact critic Miles Bowe praised the album's composition, claiming it's Ghersi's "most focused on [her] career" while noting that the vocals display her forward evolution.[32] Rating the album with a perfect score, The Guardian's Rachel Aroesti commented: "Exquisite opener Piel captures the interplay between poise and prostration that has made Catholic ritual such a rich artistic seam, while arch humour is provided by Whip – hyper-real lashing accompanied by the sound of a powering-down robot – and Desafío, which takes disposable Eurotrash pop and makes it worthy of pious contemplation."[25] Pitchfork critic Kevin Lozano labeled the record with the tag "Best New Music", mentioning that Ghersi's work is "still mysterious, but not as opaque—it doesn't keep you at an arm's length, instead [she] offers up [her] pleasures more readily."[27] Resident Advisor's Ryan Keeling described the record as "Arca's most accomplished work to date."[29] Andrew Paschal of PopMatters thought that the record "refuses to ossify into a legible and easily recognizable shape, defying our expectations of the artist’s output while remaining untethered even to a clearly delineated internal logic," describing the result as "both emotionally enrapturing and conceptually thrilling."[33] Andy Beta of Spin praised Arca for being Ghersi's "most engaging, emotionally draining and confrontational album to date."[34]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
AllMusic Best Albums of 2017 N/A
Favorite Electronic Albums of 2017
Clash Albums of the Year 2017
10
Consequence of Sound Top 50 Albums of 2017
16
Crack Magazine Top 100 albums of 2017
1
Dazed The 20 Best Albums of 2017
1
Highsnobiety 25 Best Albums of 2017
20
Les Inrockuptibles 100 Best Albums of 2017
22
Loud and Quiet Top 40 Albums of 2017
25
Mixmag Top 50 Albums of 2017
7
Noisey The 100 Best Albums of 2017
16
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2017
21
The 20 Best Experimental Albums of 2017
1
PopMatters The 60 Best Albums of 2017
22
Resident Advisor Best Albums of 2017 N/A
Rolling Stone 20 Best EDM and Electronic Albums of 2017
9
Sputnikmusic Top 50 Albums of 2017
18
The Vinyl Factory 50 Favorite Albums of 2017
42
The Quietus Albums of the Year 2017
32
Time Out New York The Best Albums of 2017
10
Tiny Mix Tapes Favorite 50 Music Releases of 2017
3
Uncut 75 Best Albums of 2017
39

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Alejandra Ghersi.

No.TitleEnglish translationLength
1."Piel""Skin"4:07
2."Anoche""Last Night"3:36
3."Saunter" 2:09
4."Urchin" 4:00
5."Reverie" 3:12
6."Castration" 3:21
7."Sin Rumbo""Aimlessly"3:35
8."Coraje""Courage"4:31
9."Whip" 1:20
10."Desafío""Challenge"3:53
11."Fugaces""Fleeting"3:07
12."Miel""Honey"2:56
13."Child" 3:23
Total length:43:17

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from AllMusic.[58]

  • Arca – vocals, production, composition, mixing, programming, instrumentation
  • Matt Colton – mastering
  • Jesse Kanda – artwork

Charts[edit]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[59] 46
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[60] 87
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[61] 18

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Roome, Joni (3 April 2017). "Album Review: Arca's self-titled album is the first to largely incorporate his brooding vocals, evoking a religious atmosphere". Thefourohfive.com. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Arca on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Arca by Arca on Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Tillmans, Wolfgang (23 February 2017). "Dance to Your Own Rhythm: Arca Is Shot and Interviewed by Wolfgang Tillmans". i-D. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Arca by Arca". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Arca Announces New Album Reverie". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Arca announces self-titled album". Crack Magazine. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Arca reveals that Bjork helped her find her voice". Crack Magazine. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
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  20. ^ Arca 1000000 (2017-04-10). "Arca – Desafío". YouTube. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
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  22. ^ a b Corcoran, Nina (7 April 2017). "Arca's self-titled third album exposes his humanity to intoxicating effect". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
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  33. ^ Paschal, Andrew (10 April 2017). "Arca: Arca". PopMatters. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
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External links[edit]